Center for Brownfields Research and Redevelopment


"Brownfields" are defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as "abandoned, idled or under-used real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination." While most of us assume that brownfields are found exclusively in the vicinity of heavy industry, in fact we find such sites throughout the metropolitan area. Sites once used as gas stations, dry cleaners, lumber yards, even golf courses and farms may need some form of remediation before they can be redeveloped. Assessing and redeveloping brownfield sites requires a range of expertise: knowledge of historical land uses; ability to conduct soil and water testing and other environmental assessments; expertise on health impacts and hazardous waste disposal; and finally the ability to engage communities in planning and designing a site's re-use.


Brownfields research and redevelopment offers opportunities to rethink the urban built environment how we construct our urban landscape. Can we make our cities more connected to the natural environment? Can we mitigate the impacts of past environmental abuses, and prevent others in the future? Can we develop our communities without the need for cars or other expensive infrastructure? Can we design our communities so they promote healthy lifestyles? All of these will be important questions in the coming years. Such work is the key to strengthening urban areas, limiting sprawl, and creating more sustainable communities. A very high percentage of urban infill sites are brownfields sites; our ability to assess, mitigate and redevelop these properties will determine the future of the urban built environment.

Our purpose:

The USF Center for Brownfields Research and Redevelopment was established by an act of the Florida State Legislature in 1998. After a hiatus of several years, the Center has been revived and acts as a vehicle for organizing USF faculty with interests/expertise in fields including public health, geology, environmental engineering, environmental science, urban planning and design, and anthropology to participate in brownfields research and redevelopment activities. Working in partnership with public agencies, nonprofits and businesses, the USF CBRR brings a unique range of knowledge to bear on brownfields mitigation and associated environmental and redevelopment issues.

EPA grants and state tax incentives have played a critical role in successful projects in Florida. Private sector money seems to be most involved at the individual corporation or developer level when they invest in remediation and redevelopment on particular sites or in designated areas. There are a variety of tax credits available as incentives for development on these sites. EPA and other federal grants are often used to leverage state and local resources more effectively and to get the process started with assessment funds. Other federal agencies such as HUD also have grant programs.

Our projects:

USF CBRR partners with a range of public, private and nonprofit sector partners. We are available to work as subgrantees or co-Principle Investigators on projects involving property research; health and environmental assessment; environmental planning; public health and urban development planning, community design, and community engagement/outreach.

Ware's Creek Community Engagement

Nebraska Avenue Community Engagement. USF CBRR is part of the Cardno TBE team working with the City of Tampa to plan for the redevelopment of 1103 N. Nebraska Avenue, a brownfields slated for redevelopment alongside the Encore project. CBRR staff and students work with the project team to design and carry out community surveys and outreach meetings to inform redevelopment plans.

Ware's Creek Community Engagement: Working with the City of Bradenton as part of the Cardno TBE consultant team, CBRR faculty and students are conducting two public visioning workshops intended to solicit resident input for the re-use of two sites in Bradenton's Ballard Park neighborhood.


To learn more about brownfields-related funding,


Our experts:

USF is home to several research and outreach centers, and many faculty whose have expertise relevant to brownfields research and redevelopment issues. Our faculty experts can provide expertise on identifying and mitigating brownfields sites; we can help plan for their reuse; and we can help develop community outreach partners for all phases of brownfield work.


Centers and Offices

Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships

Florida Center for Community Design and Research

Florida Institute of Government


Faculty Experts


Julie Baldwin, Ph.D.

Department of Community and Family Health, College of Public Health

Ph.D., Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, Johns Hopkins University

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Baldwin's research over the years has focused on both infectious and chronic disease prevention targeting children, adolescents, and families. Cross-cutting themes which have characterized her work include: utilizing community-based participatory research approaches, working with undeserved and/or marginalized populations, and addressing health disparities by developing and implementing culturally competent public health interventions.

Joseph Dorsey, Ph.D.

Department of Environmental Science and Policy, USF-St. Petersburg

Ph.D., Environmental Policy, University of Michigan

Faculty bio

Dr. Dorsey's research focuses on: brownfield redevelopment and greenfield protection; resource use and environmental degradation in developed and developing nations; corporate environmental decision-making for pollution management effectiveness and eco-efficiency; and empowering communities to participate more effectively in sustainable development initiatives.

Sarina Ergas, Ph.D.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Califorina

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Ergas's research has focused on developing carbon sequestration methods, managing the nitrogen cycle, providing access to clean water, and restoring and improving urban infrastructure.

Mark Hafen, Ph.D.

Environmental Science and Policy Program, College of Arts and Sciences

Ph.D., Marine Science, University of South Florida

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Hafen's research focuses on cultural ecology: the impact of religious belief systems on environmental policy; and geographic/geoscience education: distance learning, field-based learning, effective course construction.

Vikas Mehta, Ph.D.

School of Architecture and Community Design, College of The Arts

Ph.D., Urban & Regional Planning & Designing, University of Maryland

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Mehta's research explores the design of the built environment with an emphasis on aspects of human behavior and perceptions, especially as they relate to the design of public spaces and public buildings.

Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

Ph.D., Anthropology, Arizona State University

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Well's research investigates human impacts on soils and landscapes, cultural and ecological trajectories of long-term socionatural systems, and the influence of environmental worldview on economic decision making.

Amy Stuart, Ph.D.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Stuart's scholarly interests are primarily related to air pollution and its impacts on human health and the environment.

Trent Green

School of Architecture and Community Design, College of the Arts

M. Arch., Urban Design, Harvard University

Faculty bio

Prof. Green's areas of research includes urban/community design planning, economic development/community revitalization, housing/residential development strategies and development regulations.

Rebecca Zarger

Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Science

Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Georgia

Faculty bio, CV

Dr. Zarger's research includes environmental anthropology, political ecology of water, environmental change, environmental and cultural heritage, urban agriculture, and public engagement in environmental policy.